The Studeblogger

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Don't tighten the bolts until you're sure!

OK, I'm a moron. I've always known this, but just had it reconfirmed.

My son and I went out last Saturday to reinstall the hood on Barney. I was smart - I'd marked the location of the hinges by outlining them with Sharpie before I removed the hood. So all I had to do was match the hinges up to the marks on the hood and bolt 'er down.

Here's where the moron part occurs. I forgot to allow for the 1/16" of gap between the nib of the pen and the actual placement of the hinge. So my boy held the hood in place while I tightened things up and then gently closed it. Can you guess what happened?

The hood was aligned 1/16" too far back. So when I tried to raise it again it snugged up against the cowl and would not open.

I tried tugging on it from the front to try and skooch it forward. No go, I'd tightened the bolts just a little too much. I tried running a plastic Bondo spreader in the gap, hoping to coerce the metal of the hood UP. No go. I tried sticking a long board in the opening between the grille header and the hood to push the hood up from the inside. Similar results. And of course there's no way to loosen those bolts from the engine compartment, even if you could get an appendage up that far from underneath. I had visions of having to cut the hood off at the corners...

Thank God the body gaps in Studebakers are so wide, for that was the only thing that saved me. It occurred to me that the sheet metal "wrench" on my Skil circular saw was the same size as the bolt head. So I flattened it with a couple of sledge blows and levered it in the gap between hood and fender. Got it! a few turns on all four and the hood slid forward enough to lift it without damage.

So let my stupidity be a lesson to any other rubes and noobs reading this: never tighten 'em down until you're sure the alignment is right. I escaped with just a barely noticeable kink in the hood where it meets the cowl, but it could easily have been much worse.

I posted this at the Studebaker Forum, to which Jeff Rice (owner of one of the sweetest trucks ever, a yellow custom '37 Coupe Express), posted a simple, elegant solution:

Next time, when disassembling, try drilling a lil' 1/8" alignment hole and stick the drill bit in there to use as an alignment pin on reassembly. Dab of filler in the hole and a touch up and no one will ever know...

Thanks Jeff!

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